Second of a series
Spotlighting Austin's Sports Directors: KVUE's Mike Barnes, the shy guy
With the heavy turnover in Austin television news, it is easy to forget that the sports directors have been here for many years. FOX 7’s Dave Cody has 27 years, KVUE’s Mike Barnes, 23, KXAN’s Roger Wallace, 17, YNN’s Ricky Doyle, six, and KEYE’s Bob Ballou, five.
In the second of a five part series, KVUE's Mike Barnes claims that his on-air persona and off-camera demeanor are quite different.
After watching Mike Barnes deliver the sports news on KVUE for 23 years, you probably think you know the man. You’ve seen him joke around with his on-set colleagues, Tyler Sieswerda, Terri Gruca and Mark Murray. On Friday nights in the fall, you’ve watched his high octane delivery of the Central Texas high school football highlights on his aptly-named “Friday Football Fever” at 10:30 p.m. You may have seen him running up and down the sideline with a camera on his shoulder, shooting some of those highlights, or dashing into the stands to confer a tee shirt on the “Mom of the Week.”
"Shy" is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Mike Barnes, 45, but a conversation with him reveals a surprisingly quiet guy.
“I’m much more outspoken on the air than I am in real life,” Barnes maintained.
For illustration, he tells about meeting and courting his wife, Kim. The two met in a broadcast journalism class at the University of Texas in 1988.
“I was so shy, I chased her for three years with little success,” Barnes said. “In 1990, I was in intensive care and in a near coma following a bad car accident when Kim came to visit. I’m told that when she touched my arm I suddenly woke up and started talking.”
His Wife Is Former KVUE Anchor Kim Barnes
They were married in 1992 and Kim Barnes, who was working at a Waco TV station, landed a reporter job at KVUE. She was a weekend anchor from 1996 - 2004 before retiring to stay home with their two children. You can see her now as freelance talent on commercials.
Barnes grew up in the Dallas area as a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers, and still has family there. Aside from six months at KBTX in Bryan/College Station, he is a KVUE lifer. He began as an intern in 1987 while still in college, writing and producing for sports anchors Hugh Lewis and Danny Elzner, logging tapes, and learning how to edit.
After earning his degree in broadcast journalism, Barnes landed his first fulltime job in Aggieland, but after six months the sports reporter position opened up back at KVUE in 1989. He earned promotions to weekend sports anchor in 1993 and then won the top job in 1998.
Barnes leads the sports coverage at KVUE and also shoots much of his own footage along with weekend sports anchor/reporter Matt Mitchell. The third sports position is open since reporter Cory Hepola left for Comcast SportsNet Houston several weeks ago. Barnes and Mitchell do get news photographer help to shoot the high school football games on Friday nights.
Friday Football Fever Is Popular Long-Running Show
“Friday Football Fever began toward the end of my first year at KVUE and it has grown into a 30-minute show,” Barnes said. “It’s so popular.”
Barnes also enjoys his Texas Tailgaters show, which airs before every UT football game.
He says his philosophy for his regular sportscasts weekdays at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. is to simply talk about the biggest stories, but notes that the biggest story in the nation is not always the biggest story here.
“When I started, the big emphasis at KVUE was to show the best on-air sports team,” Barnes said. “We became very popular because every one of us was used so much. I’ve kept that philosophy. People like to see more sports reporters than just me.”
Like his competitors, Barnes says the TV sports people here get along very well, unlike in other markets.
No Switch to News in Barnes’ Future Plans
Some sportscasters are concerned about where local TV sports is headed, with cutbacks in a number of markets, but Barnes says he has never thought about switching to news.
“I’ve learned through the years you have to be happy,” Barnes said. “I know too many people who don’t enjoy their jobs and viewers can see it on the air. I don’t worry too much about the future. I’ve been fortunate.”
As proof, Barnes cites the opportunity he has had to cover UT’s national football championship in 2006, the UT baseball titles at the College World Series in Omaha in 2002 and 2005, as well as lots of events around the country, including Super Bowls, all-star games and March Madness.
“It’s tough work but fun to experience those things,” Barnes said.
Mike and Kim Barnes live with their two children in Northwest Austin.